How assemble an energy efficient, BOINC running gaming PC?

Rabenschwinge
Rabenschwinge
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Topic 210677

This is just some theoretical thought, I have no intention of running into a shop and buying new hardware right now, but what would be the way to go if I wanted a high end, or at least upper class PC, that is more energy efficient than the average PC in that class? Meaning, it is good enough to run recent games at 2560x1440 with at least 30 FPS (beyond which I don't notice a difference anyway), and squeezes out a maximum of FPS per Watt (or FP per kWh) of electric energy drawn from the net.

Let's assume money wasn't the issue.

Would I use a single high end graphics card or link two mid range graphics card?

Would I use water cooling, air cooling or would it be thinkable to have such a system passively cooled (e.g. by massive copper ribs outside of the case, which are linked via copper beams to the critical devices).

Would I use the graphics card at specification clock speed or underclock it slightly, e.g. run it 90% of the nominal clock speed? Is that even possible?

Rabenschwinge
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I just noticed that I used

I just noticed that I used the abbriviration "FPS" in two different meanings in the above post: Once I mean "Frames Per Second, once I mean "Floating Point operations per Second", whereas "FP" just means "Floating Point operations". Sorry if that caused confusion.

Zalster
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This is going to be a

This is going to be a question that gets many different answers.

I'm going to tell you, you are going to need to evaluate the complete system, not just the cards.

Your choice of CPU is going to be your starting point.  How many PCIe lanes does it have?  How many of those will be available to the GPUs. How many of these will be used by other things (M2? SSD?) in my computer. How many lanes will go to each PCIe Slot?  I say this as the newer i9 actually reduce the number of lanes in their lower chips (Why would you want to buy a restricted chip??)  

Next how many stick of ram will this chip need? (dual vs quad channel ram?)

What do the motherboards looks like? How many stick of ram, which company, what speeds.  What's lay out of the board, did the manufacture steal some of the PCIe lanes or sharing them with the PCIe slots?

As far as which GPUs. Energy efficient but still high end?  2 things that don't really go together, lol   Might consider ATI card. I have no experience with those.  My preference fall to Nvidia cards. If money is no object, I would go with the EVGA 1080Ti hybrids. Why?? Cause they run much cooler than a either a Founders edition or the ACX or FTW 3 . True, you could go for water cooling but then you need to either pay someone to do it or put the time and effort into learning now to do it yourself. Don't want to spend that much, 1060 seem to be sweet spot for power and crunching but don't know where they stand with gaming. Think you would need to look at reviewers like Jayz or Linus to see what their opinion is on game playing with such cards. 

Case. That will be decided by the Motherboard size AND the GPUs. I've seen people get ROG strix cards only to find their cases don't allow them to install them as the cards are too long.

That is the starting point. Good luck

Richie
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Rabenschwinge wrote:games at

Rabenschwinge wrote:

games at 2560x1440 with at least 30 FPS

Would I use a single high end graphics card or link two mid range graphics card?

You wouldn't need two cards to get that FPS and resolution. One powerful card would be enough and more energy efficient than two average cards linked. Then if you want to add something onto that scheme, that "extra resource" would go purely for the crunching. Upgrading to even more powerful GPU... or maybe two of them.

Naturally a PSU with 'Platinum' efficiency or something like that would be a requirement. Low voltage RAM modules would also use a little bit less electricity than modules with same speed but higher voltage requirement. I don't know what the situation is with DDR4 though, but DDR3 modules had some variation on voltage specs.

Overtonesinger
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As a proud owner of such a

As a proud owner of such a modern gaming+BOINC PC (built with power-efficiency in mind, but also cost-effectivity of components - except the CPU, which I, as IT Tech enthusiast, just wanted the best 8-core I could afford - so that I will not need to upgrade it in next 10 years...) with MB Asus + Ryzen 1800X + Asus R.O.G. STRIX GTX 1070 8GB + 2x8GB G.Skill 3600@2400 1.235 V ... when I look back now, seeing how MUCH overkill performance this flagship CPU has + the UNUSED potential of expensive RAM, couse they run stable max. at 2400 in my MB with this CPU... , especially for games that support DirectX12 and VULKAN APIs - it is OVERKILL, well, I would have picked Ryzen 1700 now. Because they say "Ryzen’s incredibly, impressively power-efficient." and they mean especially the 65 TDP one! (see a review with tests - https://www.pcworld.com/article/3176100/computers/amd-ryzen-7-1700-vs-a-5-year-old-gaming-pc-or-why-you-should-never-preorder.html?page=2 )

The most power-efficient balanced Gaming+BOINC PC components now (assuming load close to 99 percent 24/7 ... so we also want it to run COOL as much as possible, because the dust will decrease the cooling over time ... pretty fast in fact, if we run it nearly 24/7 ) would be IMHO:

GPU: ASUS ROG STRIX GAMING GTX1070 DirectCU III, 8GB GDDR5 (TDP MAX 150W, but in my experience, it never crosses 125W - I have measured it carefully under ALL possible applications and games! In 95% of all games and BOINC apps it draws 125 Watts or less! Runs super-cool at 58 Celsius max. and ridiculously QUIET - that I cannot hear it at all. AMAZING graphics card.)

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (8 cores, 16 threads), TDP 65W

MB: ASUS PRIME X370-PRO (for such a new HW as AMD Ryzen is, you really want and need a reliable and premium quality MB with GREAT support, so the manufacturer fixes all MEMORY compatibility issues, etc..., in BiOS updates and also in the driver updates - reliably and soon.)

RAM: G.SKILL 16GB KIT DDR4 2400MHz[CL15-15-15-35] RipjawsV 1.2V (P/N: F4-2400C15D-16GVR) OR some RAM modules that are certified to run in this MB with Ryzen at 3200 MHz, they certainly exist - but the demoand for those is HIGH, so it is not so easy to get a piece of them, so you may wait a month or so for them :-).

PSU with active PFC: Seasonic Prime 650 W Titanium ( 94% efficiency: certified ) - or at least Gold certified PSU.

CPU cooler: I would recommend some compact but overkill air-cooling solution, so that it will run quiet for long months BEFORE you need to use some Air-duster to clean it up! For example: Shadow Rock TF2 - by "Be quiet!"

That's it.

This whole PC (including a NVMe M.2 SSD 256GB and a HDD + 4x chassis fan 140/120mm) will have power-consumption (measured on the power-plug) just under 300W! Or around 288W under FULL load with the Titanium PSU. And around 55W when IDLE (or doing checkdisk = only waiting for disk).

I know it because my PC with such components except the CPU Ryzen 1800X 95W TDP and only Gold-certified PSU  has exactly 327W under full load)... wait... I have to confirm this - after the BiOS update that fixed some erroneous over-voltage on the CPU... it may have dropped down a little bit...

RE-MEASURING it NOW.............. Cool ... FINISHED.

The average power-consumption under full load now (Einstein at Home, 13xCPU-AVX + 3x GPU task "FGRPopencl1K-nvidia") is:

288 Watt ......... (in case when ALL running CPU-tasks are SETi: 318 Watt).

Einstein@Home AVX-tasks seem more MEMORY-bound... they probably compute so fast using AVX2, that they often have to wait for the memory to supply them with more data.

BRISINGR-II: PRIME X370-PRO,AMD'Zen 1800X 3.7/4.1, 2x8 DDR4 G.Sk.3602@2400,Asus STRIX GTX1070 DirectCUIII 8GB,*2017-04-08

BRISINGR: nb ASUS G73-JH,i7 1.73,4x2 DDR3-1333 CL7,ATi5870M 1GB,*2011-02-24

Jozef J
Jozef J
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1.The first thing you have to

1.The first thing you have to give here some your goal/max to daily RAC.What's your acceptable maximum.

To build super energy efficient computer with 100K  rac or 2 millions+ rac  there is a big difference..

2. price el.  per kilowatt hour witch you pay ... and think whether there is reason invest in expensive ""green components"" . Titanium psu are expensive. take a long time to cover the costs compared to bronze Psu s certif. Of course you must run  (24/7/365)for a clean result in comparison.  The higher power consumption-will pay your costs down Faster (with titanium psu s) ..

if you plan build computer with  rac to max 100k daily  and/or you can not turn  pc on  for 24/7/365 .. are "green components" expensive unnecessary luxury..and you do not always have to believe in marketing sales talk about "save energy" . also einstein home tasks are different and different on pc components load after time..

watt meter on wall can  shows how many kw/watts you spend per week/month/year..))

Soo for your question,  answer is simple mathematics.

 

Overtonesinger
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I agree. Thank You, Jozef J,

I agree. Thank You, Jozef J, for pointing this out.

And yeah! Exactly: I would go for "just" Gold-certified PSU (those which are not extremely expensive, i.e. older models in a sale)...... well, unless I was building a dedicated BOINC-computing *server* (24/7/365) with about 1500 Watts. Then the Titanium extra price pays off in saved electricity :-)

BRISINGR-II: PRIME X370-PRO,AMD'Zen 1800X 3.7/4.1, 2x8 DDR4 G.Sk.3602@2400,Asus STRIX GTX1070 DirectCUIII 8GB,*2017-04-08

BRISINGR: nb ASUS G73-JH,i7 1.73,4x2 DDR3-1333 CL7,ATi5870M 1GB,*2011-02-24

mikey
mikey
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Overtonesinger wrote:I agree.

Overtonesinger wrote:

I agree. Thank You, Jozef J, for pointing this out.

And yeah! Exactly: I would go for "just" Gold-certified PSU (those which are not extremely expensive, i.e. older models in a sale)...... well, unless I was building a dedicated BOINC-computing *server* (24/7/365) with about 1500 Watts. Then the Titanium extra price pays off in saved electricity :-)

This is my problem, i bought inexpensive power supplies, and now am paying the price in trying to keep my pc room cool with 15+ mostly Bronze or Gold power supplies cranking out tons of heat!! If I had put some more forethought into it I would have gotten the higher rated psu's and saved myself alot of headaches trying to deal with the heat in the process! Most of psu's are 750 or 850 watt boxes, I do have a couple of 1200 watt ones but they are off line at the moment, and to get that kind of output puts out ALOT of heat when the psu isn't very efficient!! And NO I don't NEED that big of a power supply, but they have all the plugs on them for any video card setup I choose to run and plenty of extra power in case I want to plug something else in too.

Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts
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mikey wrote:... i bought

mikey wrote:
... i bought inexpensive power supplies, and now am paying the price in trying to keep my pc room cool with 15+ mostly Bronze or Gold power supplies cranking out tons of heat!!

Even if you could magically make your PSUs 100% efficient, it would make little difference to keeping the room cool.  It's the processors/coprocessors that crank out tons of heat, not the PSUs.

As an example, imagine a host consuming 300W.  At the wall, a 95% efficient PSU would draw around 316W to deliver the 300W.  A 90% efficient PSU would draw around 333W.  By spending a whole lot more cash, you could save about 17W of heat being generated.  Compared to the 300W of heat the box generates, the potential room comfort to be gained from a very expensive PSU is quite modest.

You will gain the most comfort by working out how best to deal with the 300W per machine.  For me, the answer was to do the equivalent of installing two giant case fans :-).  One brings in cool outside air.  The other expels heated air.  They are positioned to best ensure that hot air gets swept out.  I forget the displacement ratings but at the time of design, I remember they could displace the entire room volume very rapidly.  I was very lucky to have the opportunity to design the room/airflow at the time of construction of the building.  Probably rather impractical to retro-fit :-).

Cheers,
Gary.

mikey
mikey
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Gary Roberts wrote:mikey

Gary Roberts wrote:
mikey wrote:
... i bought inexpensive power supplies, and now am paying the price in trying to keep my pc room cool with 15+ mostly Bronze or Gold power supplies cranking out tons of heat!!

Even if you could magically make your PSUs 100% efficient, it would make little difference to keeping the room cool.  It's the processors/coprocessors that crank out tons of heat, not the PSUs.

As an example, imagine a host consuming 300W.  At the wall, a 95% efficient PSU would draw around 316W to deliver the 300W.  A 90% efficient PSU would draw around 333W.  By spending a whole lot more cash, you could save about 17W of heat being generated.  Compared to the 300W of heat the box generates, the potential room comfort to be gained from a very expensive PSU is quite modest.

You will gain the most comfort by working out how best to deal with the 300W per machine.  For me, the answer was to do the equivalent of installing two giant case fans :-).  One brings in cool outside air.  The other expels heated air.  They are positioned to best ensure that hot air gets swept out.  I forget the displacement ratings but at the time of design, I remember they could displace the entire room volume very rapidly.  I was very lucky to have the opportunity to design the room/airflow at the time of construction of the building.  Probably rather impractical to retro-fit :-).

Yeah my a/c guys here are pretty dense they designed a closed room with no inlets or outlets and just put mini-split units on the wall that recirculate the air thru the units to cool the existing air. I asked about inlet and outlet vents and they said 'not needed if we keep the existing air in the room and just cool it', I see the idea but don't think it works very well with the varying outside temps. Right now for instance it's in the low 60's outside, it would be nice to get some of that much cooler air into the room to give the units a break, but it doesn't work that way. Nor can I get the hot air out if I got the cooler air in. What I usually do is just leave the door open and put a fan in the doorway blowing cooler air in that way, the hot air comes back out around the inlet cone of cooler air.

AgentB
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The input power costs are

The input power costs are significant in this type of decision. 

At perhaps one extreme you have data centres where UK costs are at around 0.50 GBP / KWh.  This is two to five times residential costs. For that you get a lot of cooling and UPS etc paid for.   Efficiency in PSU has a multiplier effect with cooling and conditioning energy costs.

If you have are concerned about global warming, each 1 KWh adds about 0.35Kg CO2  (average UK). 

As a rough rule of thumb i use in deciding in the UK for each watt saved is a pound saved per watt per year if 24x7x365 running (about 8.8 KWh) .  This includes no cost for cooling or conditioning. 

Over a 5 year life - typical for a good quality equipment, this saving will pay for a high end PSU for me.  Of course if electricity was free or is turned on infrequently, then it is not financially justified.

I need to heat the house in winter and crunchers help a little so i can offset costs - a little.  I also have low cost nightly rates so that is already the case for one of my less efficient crunchers.

I'm not good enough at thermodynamics, to make a call like - if the outside temperature is 20C and a 400W heater raises the room temperature to 30C - what temperature will 440W get to? 

Instinct says 10% - so 32C, but there is probably a flaw in that somewhere.

 

 

 

 

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